Melitzanosalata – the Greek salad made with eggplants.
Sometimes is hard to make a dividing line between salads and dips or spreads in the Greek cuisine, and Melitzanosalata is definitely one of those salad – dip – spread combinations that can be used in all variations.
In any case, melitzanosalata is a mezes (appetizer), one of many that Greeks would slowly indulge in with beer, wine or a shot of ouzo. Ouzo is not an exclusive addition to this salad since all Greek appetizers and salads somehow go so well with ouzo, but being salty and somewhat spicy in taste, the Greek eggplant salad – melitzanosalata goes really, really well with ouzo.
If you add a piece of feta cheese to the whole meze combination you may end up without needing any meal afterwards. But melitzanosalata is something Greeks gladly have at the table no matter what is the main dish. This salad simply goes well with everything.
The eggplant itself is very popular in Greece ever since it came to the Mediterranean region thanks to Arabs, sometime early in the Middle Ages. As a good and nutritious substitute for meat, eggplant found its place in the many dishes all over Greece.
Melitzanosalata is just one of the many dishes you will love in the Greek cuisine. The simplest dip is made of just eggplants, olive oil, and garlic, but there are many salads that include tomatoes, feta, peppers, and other vegetables as eggplant’s company.
When it comes to cooked or baked Greek dishes, eggplant also has its prominent place – let’s mention the Greek famous eggplant layered moussaka, or baked eggplant stuffed with feta cheese!
Melitzanosalata – Greek Eggplant Salad Recipe
Ingredients for basic melitzanosalata
- 5 big eggplants
- 8-10 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
First and most important part in the process of making melitzanosalata is to roast eggplants. That’s why this, at first sight very simple eggplant salad, is not actually that easy to make. There are two most common ways to do roasting – you either roast the whole eggplant or cut it in slices.
In any way, since eggplant has a slightly bitter taste when fresh, it’s important to extract that bitterness through the juice. If you roast the whole eggplant, make a few holes throughout it and soak it in salty water for about an hour. Juice will come out: be sure to throw it. away.
If you’d rather roast slices of eggplant, once you slice them, salt them and leave them to sit for awhile to juice off naturally. With a soft paper remove the juice and dry slices that are now ready for the oven.
Place slices or whole eggplants in the oven and let it bake; it needs some time. Eggplant “meat” will be soft and brownish when done.
Now, the question is – to remove the skin or not before proceeding.
The best taste, deep smoky one, for melitzanosalata, many Greeks achieve by charcoal grilling eggplants and using the skin when mashing it for the salad. Some restaurants are considered “more sophisticated” if offering this version of the eggplant salad.
If you’d rather make it without the skin, remove it and puree or mash the roasted eggplants. Add chopped garlic, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and parsley, and mix well. Serve with some parsley leaves kept for garnish.